The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett
Series: Demon Cycle #2
Published by Del Rey
Published on: March 27 2010
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The sun is setting on humanity. The night now belongs to voracious demons that arise as the sun sets, preying upon a dwindling population forced to cower behind ancient and half-forgotten symbols of power. These wards alone can keep the demons at bay, but legends tell of a Deliverer: a general-some would say prophet-who once bound all mankind into a single force that defeated the demons. Those times, if they ever existed, are long past. The demons are back, and the return of the Deliverer is just another myth . . . or is it?
Second Book Syndrome . . . thy name is THE DESERT SPEAR.
I had a lot of issues with this book. A lot, a lot.
The first third of the book is told from an entirely new POV. By itself, that would’ve made me cranky, b/c, yeah, I get that Jardir is important, but I missed the old POVs. The POVs who won me over in the first place.
In addition to being stuck with Jardir, the section didn’t keep to a timeline. The chapters jump chaotically to the present from various points in Jardir’s life, beginning at age nine when he is tossed into warrior training early b/c depleted ranks, ending, once again, in the present. Several times I didn’t realize we’d jumped forward for several paragraphs, not catching on until something happened to make Jardir’s change in status evident.
ALSO, the vocabulary was confusing and hard to track. Too many prefixes and suffixes combined with too many (and similar) base words. Every character could be called half a dozen names/titles. Understanding who was who and in what context was a task that constantly tore my focus away from the book, and I was successful only a fraction of the time. What that fraction was . . . I’m still not sure. I just plodded along.
There was also a dramatic increase in sexual violation.
Anytime I read fantasy, especially epic fantasy, with various people groups, some of them inevitably barbarian, I’m prepared for that which happens in war: graphic violence, wanton destruction of property and resources, etc.
Different authors handle the subject matter different ways, but as ugly as it is, I’m usually more tolerant b/c “raping and pillaging” go hand-in-hand historically, and I can’t fault someone for being realistic.
BUT. There is a limit.
Book 1 was difficult for me, b/c realistic or not, I don’t like or want to read about women as “spoils of war.” Even without war, I know that rape and sexual abuse happen everyday. Doesn’t mean I want to read about it for fun. So book 1 was occasionally uncomfortable.
This time, however . . .
In the book, Leesha worries about Gared’s new roll as a leader:
“The Cutters follow Gared without question, but does he lead them in defense of the Hollow, or out of love of carnage?”
And I can’t help but wonder the same thing about Brett. Speculation aside, enough is enough. This went so far past realism, I’m surprised I didn’t just DNF it. I guess I held on b/c I was so impressed with THE WARDED MAN that I kept reading “to get to the good part.”
But even after the horror and violence, there was. So. Much. Drama.
All the boys love Leesha, and all the girls love Arlen, but Leesha and Arlen love each other, but they can’t be together b/c reasons, BUT Leesha and Arlen are also strongly attracted to at least one of their other interested parties, and then the political implications of alliances with other interested parties come into play and . . . Oh. My. GAWD.
Traditionally girls are the ones thought to be drama queens, but there are guys who could make the the biggest female drama queen I know look rational and pragmatic, and I’m beginning to suspect that this guy could give them ALL a run for their money. That thing at the very end? If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about. Not only was it OTT drama, but it felt like a huge ripoff of THE WAYFARER REDEMPTION by Sara Douglass: View Spoiler »Leesha was Faraday, Renna was Azhure, and Arlen was Axis. I didn’t like the bait and switch the first time I encountered it, and I liked it even less this time, b/c there wasn’t even a good reason for it. At least in TWR it made sense. Faraday was a kind of iconized virgin healer, and Axis and Azhure were helpless to fight their attraction (b/c reasons). « Hide Spoiler I felt like I’d been deliberately led astray, but ultimately the switcheroo was warranted. This time . . . not so much.
SO. Not a stellar followup to the stellar beginning. Introducing new POVs is important, but the way this was written was almost like tacking a separate novella onto the beginning of the actual book. Add to that the confusing terminology, the escalation in graphic sexual abuse, and the dramallama, and, well . . . I’m not sure whether I should call THE DESERT SPEAR a mulligan or THE WARDED MAN beginner’s luck. Next on the dock is #3, so I guess we’ll see . . .
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